Shalom Life | January 27, 2015

Priscilla, Queen of the Desert: The Musical

The disco music-laden show, presented by Mirvish before its Broadway debut, is campy, winning and hilarious.

By: Miriam Cross

Published: November 16th, 2010 in Culture » Stage » Reviews

Priscilla, Queen of the Desert: The Musical

Like Rock of Ages playing a few doors down on King Street, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert: The Musical – presented by Mirvish in a limited engagement before it heads to Broadway in February 2011 – is basically an excuse to string together as many guilty-pleasure eighties hits as possible.

But unlike Rock of Ages, Priscilla is pure, witty, feel-good fun that has some emotional substance amidst all the sparkle. Based on the 1994 Australian movie The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (starring Hugo Weaving, Guy Pearce and Terence Stamp), the story follows two plucky drag queens, Tick/Mitzi (Will Swenson) and Adam/Felicia (Nick Adams), and their older, recently widowed transsexual friend Bernadette (Tony Sheldon) on an epic journey across the Australian desert aboard a dazzling, multi-coloured bus they nickname Priscilla.

Each have a different reason for making the journey, but the heart of the story lies with Tick, whose ex-wife has invited him out to Alice Springs for a paying gig and so he can meet his seven-year-old son for the first time.

The plot “complications” in Priscilla are strictly nominal – there’s not much suspense to the question of whether their rickety bus will hold up long enough for them to make it to their performance on time. But that hardly matters.

From the moment a giant disco ball drops into the Princess of Wales Theatre you know you’re in for a good show. In between a couple dozen renditions of classic disco hits – from “I Will Survive” to “It’s Raining Men” to a whole string of Madonna – we get sequin-gowned divas dangling from the ceiling, an aria sung (or wailed) from a giant silver heeled shoe suspended over the first few rows of the audience, an array of dazzling and adorable drag-queen costumes (those creamy cupcakes looked delicious), and some spectacular, show-stopping dance numbers.

It’s hard to pick favourites, but the campy, funeral-set rendition of “Don’t Leave Me This Way,” a melancholy version of “True Colors,” and the aforementioned twirling cupcakes in “MacArthur Park” rank high – not to mention the clever way the show works in the three friends’ climactic performance in Alice Springs.

All three leads exhibit great chemistry and comedic timing, while C. David Johnson, as the mechanic who saves their bus and serves as a love interest for Bernadette, brings a welcome dose of masculinity to the show. (He also deserves credit for some great ad-libs during opening night, when a stage set refused to lower completely. “They spent a lot of money on the bus,” he quipped to the audience.)

The humour is raunchy and a tad above PG, but there’s such a sweetness to the show that it never seems too inappropriate. And even though a musical like this doesn’t need a message, there’s something a little heartwarming in the takeaway of Priscilla ideas of tolerance, acceptance, and being who you are no matter what people think abound. Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is winning, campy, and unabashedly flamboyant, and as long as you don’t mind a steady deluge of ’80s music running through your head for days, it’s a guaranteed good time at the theatre.

Priscilla, Queen of the Desertruns until Jan. 2, 2011 at the Princess of Wales Theatre. For more information, visit www.mirvish.com.

Bob Dylan Gifts 50,000 CD’s to Senior Citizens Bob Dylan Gifts 50,000 CD’s to Senior Citizens TrendingEmile Hirsch Being Investigated For Assault Against Female Film Exec Emile Hirsch Being Investigated For Assault Against Female Film Exec TrendingAdam Levine to Perform at Academy Awards Adam Levine to Perform at Academy Awards Trending
 

BuzzFeed Presents Americans Eating Israeli Snacks [VIDEO]

January 26, 2015 | By Daniel Koren
BuzzFeed Presents Americans Eating Israeli Snacks [VIDEO]

Americans nosh on awesome Israeli-made snacks, from Bamba to Milky

Read More

Tel Aviv Brasserie Named World's Best Designed Restaurant

January 26, 2015 | By Einat Paz-Frankel
Tel Aviv Brasserie Named World's Best Designed Restaurant

The Israeli designers of Pastel Brasserie and Bar have won the 2014 International Space Design Award

Read More

Bob Dylan Gifts 50,000 CD’s to Senior Citizens

January 26, 2015 | By Ashley Baylen
Bob Dylan Gifts 50,000 CD’s to Senior Citizens

The folk rocker is giving away 50,000 free copies of his latest album to readers of AARP The Magazine.

Read More

Emile Hirsch Being Investigated For Assault Against Female Film Exec

January 26, 2015 | By Ashley Baylen
Emile Hirsch Being Investigated For Assault Against Female Film Exec

The 'Lords of Dogtown' actor allegedly assaulted a woman at Sundance.

Read More

Adam Levine to Perform at Academy Awards

January 26, 2015 | By Ashley Baylen
Adam Levine to Perform at Academy Awards

The Maroon 5 front man will sing 'Lost Stars' from 'Begin Again' at the Oscars next month.

Read More

UJA’s Working on a Dream Concert Party Rocks Toronto’s Opera House

January 26, 2015 | By Dan Horowitz
UJA’s Working on a Dream Concert Party Rocks Toronto’s Opera House

More than 300 arrived for a rocking good time at Toronto's storied Opera House venue on Saturday

Read More

Photos Illustrate the Rise of anti-Semitism in Germany Circa 1935

January 26, 2015 | By Polina Garaev
Photos Illustrate the Rise of anti-Semitism in Germany Circa 1935

Eighty years ago, two Jewish journalists sent a Dutch photographer to document anti-Semitism in Third Reich and expose true face of Nazi party to the world, but international media didn't print photos

Read More

Startup Club: Forewards

January 26, 2015 | By Caitlin Marceau
Startup Club: Forewards

We speak to the CTO of the budding Toronto-based marketing company

Read More

More Headlines